Apple Said to Be Driving Market Growth of Ultra Wideband Applications

Apple's inclusion of Ultra Wideband chips in its devices has driven growth in research into the technology and its potential applications, according to a new report by DigiTimes.

homepodhandoff
Ultra Wideband is a short-range, low-power radio technology that is able to provide more precise indoor positioning than Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi. The distance between two UWB devices can be measured precisely by calculating the time that it takes for a radio wave to pass between them.

Apple's iPhones have included it in the last two series via its custom U1 chip, with other Apple products also supporting UWB. According to today's report, Apple's promotion of Ultra Wideband has been the driving factor behind increased take-up of the technology:

Apple has adopted the UWB technology for iPhone 11 and 12 series, Apple Watch 6 and HomePod mini, while Samsung Electronics has launched UWB-enabled smartphones including the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the Galaxy Flip 2 and China-based Xiaomi has also offered a UWB-enabled smartphone model, Digitimes Research indicated.

Apple's HomePod 14.4 beta is set to introduce new HomePod mini music handoff functionality that takes advantage of the U1 chip in the device: When an ‌iPhone‌ is near a ‌‌HomePod mini‌‌, it begins a soft haptic touch rhythm that gets faster and faster as the ‌‌iPhone‌‌ gets closer, until the interface to transfer a song between the ‌‌HomePod mini‌‌ and the ‌‌iPhone‌‌ opens.

This functionality will make handoff quicker and more reliable on a ‌‌HomePod mini‌‌ and an iPhone 11 or iPhone 12, thanks to the U1 chips that let the devices better understand where they are in relation to one another.

Apple's rumored "AirTags" will also feature ultra wideband tech, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, while Tile is said to be planning to introduce an upgraded series of item trackers that include a UWB chip for more precise tracking.

Apple opened up its U1 chip to developers in iOS 14 with a "Nearby Interaction" framework, which can stream distance and relative direction between U1-equipped devices, paving the way for new spatial-related user experiences.

Just last week, BMW announced future plans to roll out Digital Key Plus, an enhanced version of Apple's Car Keys feature that incorporates Ultra Wideband technology, enabling drivers to unlock and start their vehicle without needing to take their ‌iPhone‌ out of their pocket or bag.

But with more and more products including the technology, there have been some notable (and surprising) exceptions: Apple's 2020 iPad Pro and new AirPods Max headphones don't include a U1 chip and therefore won't be compatible with future potential Ultra Wideband applications.

Top Rated Comments

velocityg4 Avatar
9 months ago

It's a good thing Intel is not threatened by a 'lifestyle company' lmao
I believe the CEO's comment was meant in the reverse. Shaming the company for letting a "lifestyle company" beat them on their home turf. When Intel once reigned supreme.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr Beardsley Avatar
9 months ago
I work at a company that relies on bluetooth, and it is horrible. Trying to get accurate ranging information of iBeacons or BLE beacons is very difficult. Speaking of Intel, their bluetooth hardware and drivers for Windows are so very bad. Ever wonder why all the wireless mice come with their own radio transmitter unlike Apple's Magic Mouse? At least on Apple bluetooth is mostly reliable.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coachgq Avatar
9 months ago

The HomePod mini is awesome!

I’m currently using 2 HomePod mini’s in my living room connected to my Apple TV for the TV’s sound and it works great!

The potential for Apple’s U1 chip is huge! Looking forward to future improvements!
I'm blown away by the difference in 1 mini vs 2 minis. The 2 minis stereo-paired really make a great sound.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
citysnaps Avatar
9 months ago

What's awesome about it over a regular BT speaker, like a JBL Charge or something? I'm trying to find a reason to replace mine with this, but couldn't come up with any just yet.
HomePods (including the Mini) are unique in that they're always on, waiting for a user command. And require no other device being nearby, powered on, booted up, and connected. Such as a computer, phone, tablet, etc.

From 20 feet away I can say a command like, "Siri, play blues," and within a couple seconds be treated to a nice collection of all I can eat blues music via Apple Music. That's just a simple example. I could also say, "Siri, play Cross Road Blues by Robert Johnson." And it just happens, with no other devices being powered up and connected (except, obviously, a WiFi and internet connection).

A regular bluetooth speaker cannot give me the above experience. That's why I own five HomePods (and two Minis) in different rooms.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jcswim312 Avatar
9 months ago
The HomePod mini is awesome!

I’m currently using 2 HomePod mini’s in my living room connected to my Apple TV for the TV’s sound and it works great!

The potential for Apple’s U1 chip is huge! Looking forward to future improvements!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacAddictPM Avatar
9 months ago

No one said that.
Well media reports have stated the new Intel CEO did indeed utter those words to his staff. Apparently he said, “We have to deliver better products to the PC ecosystem than any possible thing that a lifestyle company in Cupertino makes. We have to be that good, in the future.” Check out the article in TechRadar.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

HomePodandMini feature

New Mid-Range HomePod Could Be on the Way

Tuesday February 2, 2021 7:03 am PST by
After the success of the HomePod mini, Apple is reportedly mulling over offering a new, mid-range HomePod model that would sit between the original HomePod and the HomePod mini. Apple currently offers two HomePod models. One is the $299 HomePod, with seven tweeters, a four-inch woofer, six microphones, and the iPhone 6's A8 chip. The other is the $99 HomePod mini, which features a single...
maxresdefault

Testing the HomePod Mini's New U1 Handoff Functionality

Tuesday January 26, 2021 1:25 pm PST by
Apple today released iOS 14.4 and the HomePod 14.4 software, with these two updates introducing improved Handoff functionality between the HomePod mini and the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models. In our latest YouTube video, we tested out the new functionality to see just how it works. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The HomePod mini, the iPhone 11 models, and the...
f1623089740

Apple Announces Range of New Home Features for HomePod Mini, Apple TV, and Apple Watch

Monday June 7, 2021 11:22 am PDT by
Apple today announced a range of new smart home features for HomePod mini, Apple TV, and Apple Watch, as well as third-party Siri integration on accessories for the first time. Siri on the HomePod now supports making commands to control content on an Apple TV. The HomePod mini can also be set as a default output for an Apple TV. SharePlay will work with the Apple TV through FaceTime on...
homepod feature triad

Apple No Longer Planning to Launch New HomePod in 2022

Monday March 29, 2021 2:15 am PDT by
Apple was planning to launch an updated HomePod in 2022, prior to discontinuing the original HomePod, according to reliable Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. The original HomePod was announced in 2017, representing Apple's first foray into the competitive smart speaker market. The HomePod was never replaced with an updated model, despite the HomePod mini launching with new ultra-wideband...
HomePod FaceTime 3D Blue

Apple Is Rethinking the HomePod, Adding a Screen and Camera for FaceTime Calls

Wednesday May 19, 2021 3:19 am PDT by
After discontinuing the HomePod in March, Apple is now working on a new HomePod product with a screen, according to reliable Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. Render of a HomePod with a built-in camera and a large display. In a recent report, Gurman mentioned that Apple has "been developing new speakers with screens and cameras." This suggests that Apple could be at least exploring the...
find my lost mode

Third-Party Accessory Makers Can Access U1 Chip in iPhones for Find My

Wednesday April 7, 2021 10:54 am PDT by
Apple today announced the launch of its Find My network accessory program, which lets third-party accessories integrate with the Find My app. Initial Find My accessories from VanMoof, Belkin, and Chipolo will work with Find My using Bluetooth, but Apple is developing a U1 specification for chipset makers that will let third-party devices take advantage of the U1 Ultra Wideband chip built...
airpods max internals 1

AirPods Max Don't Contain U1 Chip for Ultra Wideband

Tuesday December 8, 2020 3:23 pm PST by
Apple's new AirPods Max headphones are not equipped with a U1 chip for Ultra Wideband, according to Apple's tech specs, and confirmed by MacRumors. (This chip is not to be confused with the H1 audio chip in each of the AirPod Max's ear cups.) First introduced in iPhone 11 models last year, the U1 chip enables improved spatial awareness. The distance between two devices that support Ultra...
homepod mini 14 4 u1 chip

Upcoming HomePod 14.4 Software Update to Add New HomePod Mini U1 Features

Wednesday December 16, 2020 9:00 pm PST by
The iOS 14.4 beta that was introduced today didn’t appear to include any new features, but an accompanying HomePod 14.4 beta will introduce new HomePod mini functionality that takes advantage of the U1 ultra wideband chip in the device. The HomePod beta software is not made available to developers like iOS and macOS software and is instead provided to a limited number of Apple-selected...
bmw car key photo

Apple's Digital Car Key Feature Set to Gain U1 Ultra Wideband Support With Mid-2021 Spec Update

Tuesday April 20, 2021 7:06 am PDT by
The Car Connectivity Consortium today announced that its Digital Key 3.0 specification with support for Ultra Wideband and Bluetooth LE connectivity will be made available to members like Apple by the middle of 2021. At WWDC 2020, Apple introduced a new NFC-based digital Car Key feature that allows users to unlock and start their vehicle by holding a compatible iPhone or Apple Watch near...
homepod mini thumb feature

HomePod Mini Launching in Additional Countries in June

Tuesday April 20, 2021 12:09 pm PDT by
Apple today announced that the HomePod mini will be launching in additional countries in June, including Austria, New Zealand, and Ireland. Pricing is set at €99 in Austria and Ireland, and $159 in New Zealand, with the usual space gray and white color options. HomePod mini first launched in October 2020 in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan,...